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By JESSICA GUERRERO

MORELIA, Michoacán — During the last decade, the state of Michoacán, located in central Mexico, has been a constant topic in the news’ headlines around the world due to the cartel violence that has exacerbated in this region.

This is so much so that Michoacán has been positioned as the Mexican state with the highest murder rate in 2022, with more than 1,000 killings in the first quarter of this year alone. This means that at least 11 people are murdered every day in Michoacán. These crimes are attributed, according to local authorities, to clashes and disputes between organized criminal groups in the region.

The incidence of mass murders in the state has also increased, going from 52 per year to 21 in the first quarter of 2022 alone. This cartel-related violence was before seen mostly in the central and southern region of the state, known as Tierra Caliente. However, recently the violence has spread throughout the entire state.

According to UN statistics, two of the 10 most violent cities in the world in 2021 are located in Michoacán. At first place on that list is the city of Zamora, in the northwest region of the state, with 196.63 murders per every 100,000 inhabitants, and coming in at eighth place is the city of Uruapan, listed with 73.40 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

This constant climate of violence that prevails in the state has had a severe effect on the wellbeing and quality of life of its inhabitants, among whom thousands have decided to leave their home state in search of peace and safety for their families in the face of the incessant wave of insecurity that Michoacán is facing.

This phenomenon of forced displacement has also impacted other aspects, such as the local economy due to a labor shortage in the Tierra Caliente region, where agricultural production isn’t only abundant, but critical for the entire country’s economy. since some of the Michoacán’s main products such as limes and avocados are key among national exports.

The shortage of these products in the domestic market generated a record-breaking price increase, making them basically unaffordable to the average Mexican, reaching a value per kilogram equivalent to more than half of the country’s minimum daily wage, which currently stands at 172.87 pesos.

Almost nine months after the announcement of the Support Plan for Michoacán by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), Michoacán’s security situation has, instead of improving, been moving backwards. The efforts of the local government, led by leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, have so far been insufficient and almost imperceptible.

The long-term ravages of the fight between criminal groups in the state have been evidenced in recent weeks after the discovery of a large clandestine mass grave in the municipality of Villamar, located on the border of Michoacán and Jalisco, on June 27, which is estimated to contain at least 200 bodies, of which only 17 have been recovered so far.

Added to the above is the incessant wave of killings in Michoacán. In the second week of June alone, 45 people were murdered in this state.

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